Sunday, December 20, 2009
Christmas = childlike wonder...or does it?
This year I’ve tried to rediscover Christmas from Juliette’s eyes. She’s still not totally aware of what Christmas means, but she’s certainly enchanted by the big thing with lights that has invaded the apartment. The first few times she whimpered at the sight of the “chee”. Now she looks at it curiously and asks to see the “baby,” the ornament which has a picture of her from last year. But she still walks closest to the wall when she must pass the tree.
She wasn’t too impressed by her meeting with Santa this year at the daycare Christmas program, as you can tell by the photo. Frankly we didn’t talk him up too much this year either. The biggest hit so far has been the Christmas toy catalog which is much worse the wear after two months of daily page-turning/tearing. Gift-wise we finally decided on a baby jumbo Lego-like system that has a table she can construct things on and a baby doll that you can give a bath to. I get a warm feeling thinking about her reaction to the baby doll, which I think she will quickly become attached to.
Then we have been treated (though sometimes I might say cursed) with some snow these past few days. As an Alabama girl who didn’t see white stuff very often, I’m always impressed by snowfall. I don’t particularly like driving in it though in my city they do a pretty good job of sanding the roads before-hand. It’s not perfect though and some small roads are still rather white. This morning we woke up to steady snow showers. Now the sun is making some of it melt and the drops sound like bells as they fall on the metal railing of the balcony.
But aside sharing these warm moments with baby and watching snow, I’ve realized that I’m unfortunately too grown-up to totally see the season in that wondrous child-like way anymore. I get too consumed by the little things. Like finding appropriate presents for the babysitter and ones light enough to ship to American family, despite their protests that they don’t need anything. There comes that point in the season when you start to panic, realizing there are only X days before the big day and you’ve still got hundreds of details to finalize. At least in France they don’t go overboard with presents so this does ease up the stress a little. However they totally make up for it by becoming obsessive about meals.
I remember my first year in France with my host family. I was amazed the mother was considering serving ostrich as the main meat. Apparently “normal” meats like chicken and roast beef are boring for Christmas meals. Appetizers seem to be fit for five-star restaurants: scallops and lobster bisque, truffles, oysters, special patés and of course, foie gras. And as I’ve decided to actually host a Christmas Eve meal this year, I started to wonder if I was “à la hauteur” or good enough to really do this. Lucky for me there are two expat girls who are coming, but it’s my husband and another French husband who may have higher expectations. Tant pis, too bad, I told Remi after barely catching myself from another panic attack. This will be an American Christmas style meal with some French touches. I’ll go French on the appetizer: with smoked salmon and some little vegetable sides. It’s no coincidence this is the easiest of all the French appetizers to prepare. Then the main meal will strangely resemble Thanksgiving, with turkey and potatoes, green beans, pumpkin pie and another dessert perhaps.
And I’ll try a little harder to just relax and enjoy this Christmas thing.